The Importance of E-commerce in the Automotive Aftermarket Industry
E-commerce is the hottest topic trending in the automotive aftermarket today.
Hedges & Company recently shared their 13th annual eCommerce market share forecast for the US automotive aftermarket, with growth in online revenue reaching $16 billion in 2020. This includes an incremental $1.9 billion in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A major trend during the pandemic, in nearly any industry, has been a dramatic shift to eCommerce market share. The original automotive forecast called for 2020 online shopping revenue at $14 billion but due to increased demand beginning in April with global lockdown orders, that forecast is now just over $16 billion.
This represents a 30% increase in online consumer spending from 2019. This year’s new forecast projects new auto parts and accessories eCommerce revenue at over $22 billion in the next three years.
Across North America, trends in online shopping for new auto parts and accessories are accelerating. North American automotive parts eCommerce is growing and is projected to reach US$20.6 billion in 2020. That includes CA$4.9 billion/US$3.7 billion in Canada and just under US$1 billion in Mexico.
Digital influence has a significant impact on both online and offline parts and accessories revenue. Digital influence occurs when a consumer does online research before buying an auto part or accessory. It comes from online advertising, reviews, “how-to” content, video advertising and video content. It has a significant impact because more than nine out of 10 shoppers do online research even if planning to buy in a retail store. Hedges & Company research shows consumers do most of their online research in four primary ways: online search (74% of all parts and accessories consumers); they look at auto parts retailer websites (73%); they visit manufacturer websites (57%) and read automotive forums (47%).
In 2020, digital influence is predicted to impact the US auto parts retail industry by over $140 billion, down from $148 billion in digital influence in 2019. The drop can be attributed to the growth in eCommerce market share being offset with a reduction in brick and mortar retail sales in 2020. Digital influence is projected to rebound to $168 billion by 2023 in the United States.
Auto parts eCommerce market share transacted on mobile phones will account for $10.4 billion revenue in the US in 2020. That’s about a 40% increase over 2019, when mobile reached $7.4 billion.
The Hedges & Company annual forecast includes trends in online shopping for new and remanufactured parts and accessories. This includes specialty equipment parts and accessories manufactured and distributed by SEMA-member companies. It also includes OEM replacement parts manufactured and distributed by members of the Auto Care Association and AASA.
The annual trends in online shopping forecast for the automotive aftermarket is free and available here: hedgescompany.com
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Virtual events and conferences in 2020
As virtual events take root in the last half of 2020, attendees have clear opinions on cost and format, according to an Events Participation Index from Searchengineland.com.
Low expectations that attendees could safely attend in-person events this year have bottomed out, which isn’t surprising as we’ve passed a grim milestone of 1 million global deaths tied to COVID-19 this week. But despite concerns over the second and, in some cases, third waves of the virus beginning to show, many are hopeful that they can travel and attend conferences, trade shows or more in the second half of 2021.
Virtual or bust
The upheavals tied to COVID-19 have caused considerable financial strain for event organizers, especially larger trade shows, but many companies have been successful in converting their events to online, or “virtual” experiences.
67% of marketers surveyed for Searchengineland’s Event Participation Index said they would pay to attend virtual events. Though the vast majority of those said they would pay between $99 and $499 and only a very small number said they would pay more than $499.
Only 18% of those surveyed said they prefer virtual events to follow a traditional full-day programming schedule spread over fewer days like most in-person events do. About 35% said they prefer half-day programming spread over several days. But 47% told us that they would prefer virtual events offer just a few hours of programming a day spread out over a much longer time.
Online for now
While the suspension of in-person conferences and trade shows has been devastating for many industries, one bright spot has been the level of attendance and satisfaction with online or “virtual” events that have sprung up to replace canceled conferences.
Nearly 70% of respondents said they would only attend online events until a COVID-19 vaccine is produced. But 81% said they had already attended a virtual event in the past three months. Even more encouraging to organizers is 75% of our respondents said they were satisfied with those experiences.
Making the change
Just like in-person events, experience varies depending on the show. Some organizers are trying to replicate the trade-show experience with virtual learning sessions, booths and even networking receptions, while others may only be focusing on the educational sessions.
Interestingly, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research has been tracking how organizers forced to cancel in-person events have responded and while the bulk (80%) have gone virtual, the focus on trade-show experiences is not universal.
About 65% said they offered online educational sessions, 47% served sponsored or exhibitor content, and 41% attempted to host the full trade-show experience including exhibition online, CEIR found.
What we’ve learned about virtual events
They are not easier to pull off than live events. You need a good team structure, a solid foundation of project management, and producers with digital experience know-how to pull them off effectively.
Vendor selection is key. Events platforms are in huge demand now, but how easy they are to manage, the experiences they yield for the audience, and the pricing and support models offered can be a bit inflexible. If you plan to do multiple events, don’t be afraid to experiment.
Content is still king. Put on a good session that is truly helpful to your audience. If you can add interactive Q&A elements, live polling, and other virtual enhancements for networking either live or asynchronously that is great. But give ample focus to the quality of your content.
Google My Business and reviews gain in 2020 Local Ranking Factors survey
Google continues to invest in local, with multiple ads innovations and Google My Business feature enhancements in recent months. Google’s introduction of video conferencing and the recent move to auction-based pricing for Local Services Ads are examples.
It’s worth noting that organic rankings still drive roughly 20x more clicks, thus the continued and growing focus on local SEO and ranking factors. A couple of years ago Google took the unusual step of specifying some of the variables it considers in ranking local search results.
Google’s discussion of “relevance, distance and prominence” is helpful, but still relatively opaque. For example, prominence refers to how well known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. (e.g. famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands). It’s also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply. Google takes into account SEO best practices, links and citations as well as reviews in calculating prominence.
The Local Search Ranking Factors, a 12-year old annual survey of leading local SEOs, has recently unveiled the results of the 2020 survey at a conference two weeks ago and has promised a deep dive in the near future. Here are some of the top-level findings of the survey of leading local SEO practitioners:
The Big Buckets
The survey explored seven “thematic” areas:
- Google My Business (GMB)
- On-page factors
- Behavioral Signals
The findings are divided into two broad categories: influences on the Map/Local Pack and Local Finder and local organic results. The Local Finder is the page of supplemental map listings you get when you click on “view all” at the bottom of the Map Pack.
According to the 2020 findings, GMB and reviews are the variables that have grown the most in their perceived impact. On-page signals, local links and citations are seen to have declined in relative influence to varying degrees.
Things shift dramatically when considering organic local results outside the Map Pack or Local Finder — in other words further down on the SERP. For example, the influence of GMB in local organic rankings is perceived to be minimal. Reviews are also seen as having little influence on local SEO rankings.
Among the local SEO variables considered were link quality, content, domain authority, mobile friendliness and keyword usage. Authority of inbound links is not surprisingly the top local organic SEO ranking factor by a considerable margin. That was followed by “volume of quality content on the entire website.” After that the scoring gaps were less significant. This suggests a large number of variables that local SEOs believe contribute to organic rankings.
The survey also broke out more detailed GMB Local Pack ranking variables: business categories, keywords in the business title, proximity, reviews and spam fighting, among others.
Primary business category was identified as the most influential ranking factor (going to relevance). But that barely beat out keyword usage in the business name, which Google publicly advises against but which apparently remains a successful local tactic.
After business category and keyword stuffing the business name, proximity (or distance) is a major factor. However, marketers effectively can’t do anything to influence it. Local rankings change as users move around a city or neighborhood based on the distance between users and businesses.
Some surprises here include the apparently more modest influence of reviews, as well as GMB profile completeness. One would assume more complete profiles have more content and would rank better accordingly.
In addition, “keywords in native Google reviews” are seen as more influential than review scores or quantity of reviews, which also seems strange and counterintuitive.
Rankings vs. Conversion Factors
The study’s author, Darren Shaw cautioned that rankings are a means to an end and not an end in themselves, “For me, the biggest takeaway is the growing importance of focusing on conversions from your Google listing instead of just obsessing about rankings.”
He added, “A #1 ranking isn’t going to drive any leads to your business if your profile doesn’t have any information on it. A complete GMB listing ranking in the #5 spot with products, photos, descriptions, special offers, and tons of positive reviews will always beat an empty GMB listing ranking first.”
One of the final survey questions was, “Which individual factors do you think have the biggest impact on conversions from GMB?” This speaks to the real-world impact of GMB content on user engagement and response rates.
In this case reviews come out on top. The top three answers all pertain to review quality and quantity. Then comes proximity (“near me”). Messaging follows after that, then hours information and completeness of the GMB listing. Booking capabilities, Posts and Q&A re seen as relatively weak conversion influences by comparison.
Clearly, higher visibility and rankings do drive clicks, calls, directions and ultimately conversions. But while there’s broad alignment, it’s interesting to note that the variables which might bring marketers higher rankings aren’t always these same as those that generate actual sales.
READ MORE HERE: searchengineland.com
Improving your Google search visibility
You know at first glance who ranks at the top of a Google search because you can see the top 10 search results for whatever it is you are searching. But have you ever wondered who is at the very bottom of the search? How can you get in the top 10 results?
If you don’t know what elements help your website rank in the first 10 or even the first 20 results of a Google search, your site may well be one of those that ends up on the bottom end of a search. Especially disastrous for small, local businesses – potential customers might not know you exist.
So, what do you need to do to maintain a high-ranking presence on Google?
- Recent search trends
- The makeup of a Google search
- Local marketing tactics to help you rank
Understanding recent search trends
Recent information about search statistics suggests that convenience and personalization play a big role in how people search the web today and, also, the kind of information they get in their search results. The frequency of the search term “near me” has risen by 40% in the last year or so. That means that more web searchers spend their time looking for goods and services in their area than they ever have before.
The role of reviews and business listings
Local reviews on sites like Yelp and tools like Google local business listings help search engines determine if your company’s website fits someone’s “near me” criteria. The more times your site fits these criteria, the better chance you have at gaining new customers.
All Google searches have some elements in common regardless of who’s searching. However, personalization determines what you see in a search result. It also determines what a potential customer could see, and that customer’s results might be vastly different than yours, even if they live in exactly the same area that you do and use exactly the same keywords.
What personalization looks like
Google’s algorithm personalizes searches for each searcher. The following searches will all yield different results based on their browsing history and search patterns:
- Searching on a family computer where others frequently browse Pinterest, niche websites or blogs.
- Your neighbor across the street searching.
- Searching on your smartphone.
Even though you’re in the same zip code, browser history is going to affect search results. Your smartphone will have no outside influences and some businesses will rank higher in search based on their mobile-friendliness.
Voice search is the next big thing on the search landscape. The use of voice searches has increased by 50% in the last year, and as people get more comfortable with this technology, that number is bound to rise even more.
To summarize, here are some of the most important trends you need to be aware of in the next year or so:
- ”Near me” searches have increased substantially.
- Online reviews and business listings help your site rank among “near me” searches.
- Personalization is growing in importance.
- The type of device being used for the search determines the outcome.
- Voice search has grown and will continue to do so.
The makeup of a Google search
Fortunately there are effective tools at your disposal to ensure your business’ success. The following tactics are what we recommend based on the latest trends and on the anatomy of a Google search.
You can use your knowledge of recent trends to help your company’s website rank better in a Google search. When your customers perform a search, they’re likely going to see one or more of the following in their search results:
- A snippet at the top of the page
- The title of a website/webpage
- The page’s URL
- Internal site links
- Related searches
In this list, the snippet is the greatest asset for you. Google will determine if something on your site becomes a snippet at the top of the page. While you have control over the type of content that goes on your site, you may not have that control over whether Google chooses your site to use as the snippet in the search results. It boils down to how relevant your content is in relation to the search inquiry.
The rest of the elements are within your control. The title, the URL, and the internal links constitute the on-page components you should pay attention to when you’re creating content. Ideally, your titles, URLs, and internal site links contain relevant keyword phrases, including some that are voice search- and mobile-friendly.
Local voice search
Voice searches done by Google Assistant, Siri, or some other similar technology have a few things in common.
- They’re typically phrases, like “Hey Google: Where can I find a plumber near me?”
- They often include a geographic element, such as “near me” or a reference to the city or state the search is being conducted in.
- They don’t follow the traditional format, which would be something like “plumbers in any city, USA.”
While it’s still okay for you to create content that includes more traditional long-tail keyword phrases, it’s important to include conversational phrases, like No. 1 in the list above. Essentially, you need to think about how people type an inquiry into a search engine versus how they would speak it into their phone or to their home’s voice assistant.
Google Ads can boost your chances of having your business appear at the top of local search results. While this is always important, it can become even more important if you tend to be in a competitive local niche.
To optimize your search results, Utilize Google’s Local Service Ads. These ads cater to specific professional services. They allow you to include information such as reviews and ratings, your business hours, phone numbers and more.
The ads also require the searcher to be very specific in their inquiry. For example, if the potential customer clicks on a local listing for a plumber, Google prompts the customer to confirm the service area and the type of service they’re looking for. If your company is a good fit, then that customer will be matched to you. It’s more likely that prospects who find your ad will be prequalified and become new customers.
READ MORE HERE: searchengineland.com